When I saw Visualmotive’s “Walk or Bus?” chart, I was fascinated. I love stuff like this! It answers the question of “If I have to be somewhere, is it going to be faster to wait for a bus, or just start hiking?”
I am a multi-mode commuter. I often use the bus to get myself downtown. Sometimes, I also need to get around the city. I almost always do this on my bike. Still, I felt compelled to create a chart that included bicycling.
To work this out, I wrote a program in PHP.
The following chart (click it to enlarge) shows whether it’d technically be faster to Walk, ride, or wait for the next bus. Of course, I’d recommend walking or riding if it’s practical, even if it’s not the fastest way.
The top header is how long you’ll have to wait for the next bus to arrive. Down the side is the distance you need to travel. In many cities, one mile is about 8 city blocks, a little more than .1 mile each.
Where there’s a gray bus icon, it’s faster to wait for the bus. Where there’s a blue bicycle, it’s faster to hop on the bike and ride. The yellow jogging man represents a brisk walking pace (4 MPH) and the green foot represents trudging along with an average gait of 3 MPH. I extended the chart out to 4.0 miles, which is about how far one can expect to get on a bicycle in an urban setting within half an hour at 8 MPH. These are just guidelines, of course. Some people are considerably faster on bicycles. Others are slower. Same with walking and the bus, actually.
Of course, speed isn’t the only variable. Traffic congestion, mechanical problems, the ability to take shortcuts by foot or by bike, and other things beyond your control can throw this off. This definitely isn’t a reference card to keep on you. It’s more of something to get you thinking about how you get around, and maybe something to show your friends and co-workers when they ask how practical non-motorized transportation really is.